Almost two million Ford F-150 pickups are being recalled to repair defective seat-belts components that have ignited following crashes. The defect was uncovered in an investigation by the NHTSA in August. The investigation was prompted by five separate reports of fires in affected Ford models. Three of the five fires demolished the vehicles completely. (Ford was also notified of 17 incidents of fire or smoke in the United States in connection with this defect). The agency does not generally initiate preliminary investigations until the number of reported defects is far higher than five. In this case, however, the agency determined that the defect was so dangerous that an investigation was warranted at this point.
In August, the NHTSA alerted consumers that faulty seatbelt pretensioners can ignite in a crash and cause other materials in the vehicle to catch fire. The pretensioner tightens the seatbelt to secure the passenger, which allows the airbag to function properly. Both airbags and pretensioners rely on a mechanism that is triggered in an auto crash. Ford F-150 pickups use pretensioners manufactured by ZF TRW or Takata.
In one of the reported incidents, a driver in Grand Rapids, Michigan told the NHTSA that his car was impacted on the passenger side after a collision with a deer. A passenger observed a fire that ignited where the seatbelt is located between the front and rear door. Within minutes, the truck burst into flames and was totally engulfed. In another episode, a consumer reported that a fire began in the passenger seat following an impact on the right side of the car. The insurance company in that incident concluded that the fire was caused by manufacturing defects associated with the airbag and electrical system.
Experts caution that despite the risk of pretensioners that can ignite, drivers should continue to wear their seatbelts. In the five reports investigated by the NHTSA, the explosion happened only after the crash occurred. In four of the incidents the crash caused the airbags to deploy. Therefore, seatbelt use remains an important aspect of safe driving protocols in the affected cars.
Ford is projecting that the recall will cost approximately $140 million.
If you or a member of your family suffered injury or death as a result of negligence or a defective automobile, contact the attorneys Alexander Law Group, LLP. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will answer your questions and get you the maximum compensation that is possible. Call 888.777.1776 or contact us online.